Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Media worth Mention pt. 1: La Perdida

This cornily alliteratively titled feature covers DVDs, CDs, and Comic books that I've recently viewed/read/listened to/otherwise ingested that not only were worth the time/money involved to acquire and ingest them, but were in fact good enough to write about here where maybe one or two people will get curious and likewise check them out.

The first item is actually a series, a 5 part comic by Jessica Abel (of artbabe fame) called 'La Perdida'. It's about a young American woman's experiences living in Mexico (Abel lived in Mexico herself from 1998-2000). Mexico is a source of fascination for many USians, myself included, several of whom have fantasies with varying degrees of seriousness about actually moving there and living there for a bit, and anyone with that interest really ought to look into this series. It's not merely a thinly veiled autobiographical travel diary thing - there are a number of events and twists in the story that add suspense and excitement that go beyond the usual foreigner acclimating to the local culture subject matter. After reading Part 4, I had to rush back to the bookstore to pick up Part 5, because I wanted to see how things turned out.

The drawings are all black and white, with covers in color. I enjoyed the style and the story, and picked up a lot of great Mexican slang along the way, which I almost certainly will never use in real life. I'm not even sure how 'guey' is pronounced.

This came out in 2002, but I am just discovering it now, thanks to the truly wonderful Boxcar Books, a non-profit, volunteer-run bookstore in Bloomington (which, thanks to some recent renovations, now has a whole room dedicated to comix). Since I discovered Boxcar Books, I pretty much only go to Borders for tech book needs now.

Highly recommended.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas Motherfuckers!

Apparently some people are worried about 'secular progressives' trying to further the ongoing oppression of the Christian people by saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of Merry Christmas. All the Christians are going to have to flee to Egypt like Jesus and his Mom and non-God Dad did any minute now.

As a member of this secular conspiracy to destroy America's Heritage (I am a member of the ACLU, after all), this prompted me to examine my own behavior to see if I was doing enough for the cause. On some self-reflexion, I realized I actually say 'Merry Christmas' a lot, which made me wonder why do I show such callous disregard for friends and colleagues who are Jewish or otherwise non-affiliated with the downtrodden Christian minority of 80% of residents of the U.S. (thousands of whom attend services regularly, hundreds of whom pay attention to them)?

I realized it was kind of a knee jerk thing I do as a resident of a very churchy state in the midwest where slipping up and giving the wrong person the idea that you don't 'believe what they do' will result in all sorts of grief (I hesitate to use the word persecution as let's not be a drama queen here, the beatings ended once I got away from the nuns at my Catholic school).

So, yeah, 'War on Christmas' my skinny white ass. I am going to indulge in some serious Santa worship on the 25th to atone for my utter failure to observe the Winter Solstice. My Winter Solstice tradition is to, at some point during the day, say 'hey, it's Winter Solstice today', which has yet to trigger an exchange lasting longer than 15 seconds. Still, Solstice is important, as the truth at the root of it all is that freezin' is the reason for the season.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Best programming book EVAR!

I have written briefly before about the 7 wheeled bicycle that is J2EE. Anyhow, people are looking for something, anything to replace Java as the next thing in programming, and a major contender is Ruby, a language created in Japan by a guy w/ the nickname 'Matz'. Another big one is Python, all the rage with the Linux set.

Anyhow, while wasting time on Kuro5hin tonight, I ran into a reference to Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby. It is full of cartoons and stories about an evil scientist named Dr. Cham. It also talks about Ruby, too. This Mr. why the lucky stiff is a genius, I tell you!

I have decided to learn more about Ruby now. Comix make learnin fun!

(update 12-23-05:

I read the whole thing. I liked the bit about meta-programming and Dwemthy's array. Writing programs that write programs is great, especially if the programs partially write themselves.

I also really liked the tiny bunny who put the dragon's head in the chimbly. I'm still not sure what a chimbly is. A cute mispelling of chimney?

Overall, a bold redefinition of the programming manual taking ideas Larry Wall touched on with the 'Job from the Bible hacks Perl' bits in the Camel Book and then just really running with them.